Barclays 'considering its position' over Montague: Royal Bank of Scotland insists it gave Tiphook chief executive warning of impending pounds 2.3m bankruptcy petition

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The Independent Online
BARCLAYS Bank said last night it was 'considering its position' over a number of substantial loans made to Robert Montague, the embattled chief executive of Tiphook, now renamed Central Transport Rental Group.

Barclays has a mortgage over Mr Montague's pounds 8m mansion and a charge over his company share options.

Royal Bank of Scotland filed a pounds 2.3m bankruptcy petition against Mr Montague on Wednesday over loans to his 1,500-acre estate at Pusey, Oxfordshire. Yesterday Royal Bank said it had written to Mr Montague and his lawyers warning them it was about to file a bankruptcy petition a full week before it did so.

Mr Montague yesterday reiterated what he told Tiphook's annual meeting on Thursday - that he had had no warning of the petition before the meeting.

A court hearing for the bankruptcy petition has been set for 28 October at Oxford County Court.

Mr Montague told shareholders on Thursday, via the chairman, Rupert Hambro, that he did not know about any bankruptcy petition against him and that he had no financial difficulties.

A spokesman for Royal Bank of Scotland said yesterday: 'There was full notification in writing to Mr Montague of the bank's impending action a full week before the Wednesday on which the petition was filed.'

A spokesman for Tiphook said yesterday that neither Mr Montague nor the company had known anything about the petition before the annual meeting, when Paul Snook of the accountants Buchler Phillips, acting for US bondholders, brought the subject up.

The spokesman said: 'Nobody had contemplated that this would happen at the AGM. Whoever is leaking details of Mr Montague's personal finances is in breach of client confidentiality.'

If Mr Montague is made bankrupt, the implications for Tiphook are damaging, since he will be unable to continue as a director. The incoming chairman, Ian Clubb, told the annual meeting: 'It is my strong view that without Robert Montague . . . it will not be possible for me to achieve my goals for the shareholders.'

Yesterday Tiphook issued a statement saying: 'Ian Clubb has confirmed that his appointment as chairman and his ongoing commitment to the company are not affected by Mr Montague's personal financial position.'

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